Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BANANAS...


After our Branch President's meeting we were treated to fresh bananas from the backyard of President Cruz (left). There's nothing like a fresh banana after a 2.5 hour meeting. All that was missing was the ice cream, chocolate/caramel syrup, whip cream, nuts, and a cherry on top.


Meet our new Hermanas (right)...Elías and Pratt (standing, right off the plane) with their companions, Hermanas Cruz and Perez.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

EMAIL... Week 47

Hola All!
This week went by so fast, it was all a blur! We so enjoyed our time with the other two Senior couples celebrating Hermana Bell's birthday last Sunday evening, and then our great adventure Monday hiking and exploring La Garnacha. (We hope you enjoyed the pictures and Elder K's commentary on the blog.) Most of us earned a few scrapes and bruises, but it was well worth a little pain and discoloration for the experience.
We had great visits, despite incredible downpours at the predictable places...Villa Cuba with Anabel and Leo, and then Juana and Jackson and her extended family; Las Americas with Flor de Maria and family, and Edys. It was so incredible how it started to rain while we were just arriving at each home, and then poured through the visit, then would lighten up as we left and went to the next place. The spirit was strong, despite the pounding rain. Thank goodness for umbrellas, as we only got a bit wet and muddy. The Hermanas were happy to be traveling with us by vehicle, rather than walking the great distances and in the pouring rain. Kids were swimming in the water hole at Villa Cuba, which was dry a week ago. The rainy season is truly upon us. They celebrate El Día de la Madre (Mother's Day) on the 30th and the kids have the day off of school. Go figure. They also celebrate El Día del Niño (Children's Day) on June 1st and El Día del Padre (Father's Day) on June 23rd. We decided to just have one branch activity to celebrate all 3 events. We'll let you know how that goes.
So happy that Marvin was able to go with us to visit an extremely poor family, whose home doesn't have functional or safe doors. He measured both openings and is going to make and install the doors. Their home is also in the path of flash flooding and their latrine (most don't have indoor toilets), is in danger of being washed away and/or collapsing, and they have small children. He told the woman who to call in the city to get it taken care of, what to tell them, and gave her the number. He is so awesome and it's so sweet to see the spirit working so powerfully in his life.
Other tender mercies of the week...I had been seeing a black ring, that I thought was a blob of mascara or an errant eyelash, in my eye for a couple of weeks. I tried to rinse it out with water, eye drops, etc, but no change. The mission nurse checked it and couldn't see anything, so she scheduled at appointment for me with an ophthalmologist in Managua. He was very thorough and spoke English quite well. It is just one of those normal aging things and shouldn't bother me within a few months. Whew! Also, when we got the loaner truck from the mission office, Elder K noticed and showed them that it had a nail in a tire. He had that tire repaired. All of the tires are pretty worn out and that was reported to the man in charge of vehicles. Thursday we were working with the Elders and they noticed that another tire looked pretty low. It kept losing air, so Elder K got it fixed this morning and it had 2 screws in it. What a blessing to have not had any problems with it on our trip to Managua, or to have been stuck somewhere during one of the downpours. Heavenly Father is truly involved in all of the details of our lives. Usually, we really don't notice. I invite all of us to notice the many tender mercies and involvement in our lives of our loving Heavenly Father. I call them "Heavenly Father Huggers", and I testify that I have received many, and I have seen multitudes in the lives of my family and those around me. I am so grateful for these experiences that remind me again and again that He is always there! He lives and loves us! Our Savior lives and loves us.
Have a great week! We love you!
Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fun times with Missionaries... Views... La Garnancha... Plows...

Celebrating b-days of Elder Neilson and Hermana Pérez during their last district meeting before changes.
Our fearless zone leaders trying on women's baptismal attire to make sure they fit. They both could have a career in modeling after their mission.


Off to the bus station...
We're going to miss Hermanas Hernandez (blue blouse) and Caishpal (pink blouse). We've learned so much from each one and have been truly blessed to have worked with them. It was a sad goodbye at the bus station.


We went back to the vista in "La Garancha" with our favorite Senior couples; the Lee's and the Bell's. You can see four volcanoes, behind the mountain range, from the top of this mountain; two of which you can see in the pictures.


Laurie and I went rock climbing again. The view is spectacular!
Views from the vista including the small town of San Nicolás.


The creatures we met hiking down to the rock carvings of La Garnancha.

Meet Alberto Gutierrez, the artist, the botanist, and our guide.
Awesome experience...so beautiful and his artistic talent is incredible.








Many farmers still plow their fields the "old" way.


video

Saturday, May 20, 2017

EMAIL... Week 46


Hola All!
We had a great, but wet week! So grateful to have the needed rain, and that we weren't soaked all week. We had no water for 2 days, due to a broken pipe somewhere around here. We are blessed to have a water tank, but not knowing how long the water was going to be off, we were very frugal with what we had. Kind of reminded me of Girls Camp. It was interesting that our family in St. Louis was without power during the same time we didn't have city water. Grateful for water and power!
We love the missionaries we are serving with. It is such a sweet experience to hear them teach and testify to their investigators and members alike. They truly love the people here, and their actions and attitudes show it. We are reminded of President Monson's love and care for the widows while a young bishop. We have several widows, older people, and people living alone, who we try to see at least twice a month. They act so happy to have us in their homes, but in reality they uplift us with their love for us, Heavenly Father, and the Savior. Most of their homes are humble, but the spirit is available to all, no matter the size or luxury of the dwelling. There are so many amazing people in the world, and it is such a blessing for us to be able to get to know some of the ones here well. Many people are struggling all over the world, and we all need to remember that Heavenly Father loves them just as much as He loves us. They are His children, too, and He wants them to return to Him. We, like Peter, have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to feed His lambs and His sheep. There are people on this earth who are waiting for us specifically to reach out and help them. What a wonderful responsibility we each have!
We had a special birthday dinner for Blanca with her husband and son. We love this family and so want them to have all that the Father has to offer them, especially the opportunity to be an eternal family! They are so patient with my Spanish. Their son, Marvincito, knows some English and translates the best he can, when we need him to. They are educated and can add so much to this branch. Marvin Sr. is the branch secretary and really wants to be active and get sealed to his parents and to his family.
Poco poco!
Love to all! Thanks for all you do and for your awesome examples!
Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Flowers... Mountain Views... Condega Style Church...


The rains have come and the flowers are popping. The mountain highlands are beautiful, green, and lush. This tree would be perfect for a tree house.



As we were driving to Condega, the fog was hanging onto the mountains. Laurie about fell out of the car taking these pictures. It's become a beautiful drive we get to enjoy each week and sometimes more when we have a branch assignment there.





Our little group in Condega, which is part of our branch, meet in one of our members homes. We average 15-20 in attendance each week. We hold Sacrament meeting and Sunday School (combined) on the back patio. For the third hour (our meetings total 2 hours) the Relief Society stays here and the Priesthood moves 20' to the front porch. We usually have one member bless the Sacrament and one pass. Elder Howland (left) is the group leader and he and Elder Russell take care of the meeting (speakers, prayers, etc.) There is a RS, SS, and Priesthood teacher and one Priesthood holder is being trained as the Assistant Group Leader. Though we're small, the spirit is strong and they are progressing.

Happy Mother's Day to the mother of my awesome children. She gets to celebrate this special day twice as the "Nicas" celebrate el día de la madre on May 30. We are trying to get our small group of primary children to learn and sing a Mother's Day song which they have never done before. This should be fun and interesting.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

EMAIL... Week 45

Hola All!
Another amazing week in Nicaragua! We had many guests and fed many missionaries, which is always fun! We love feeding the missionaries we work with, and even got to feed our Condega Elders on Tuesday, before taking them back with us to work in Condega. Our zone had interviews with the President on Wednesday, so the Sister AP, Hermana Galbraith, stayed with us Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and she is awesome! We prepared lunch for the President and his entourage on Wednesday...we made Cafe Rio, Nica style. It was fun and the American missionaries and the Poncios (they were able to experience Cafe Rio while in the Provo MTC) especially enjoyed it. I was able to make my mom's Macadoches cake for dessert with only one substitution, and of course they loved that. Thanks, Mom! XO The President teased me that I am going to be the mission cook. Uh, no thanks! It's our pleasure on occasion, but not on a permanent basis!
We had a wonderful Noche de Hogar with the recently released District President and his family on Monday night. He will be 37 next week and served for 6 years. He has been a member about 8 years, and his wife is a returned missionary. They have 2 sons, 2 and 6. Elder K did the lesson on heroes, and showed the Captain Moroni video. The 6 year old participated a lot. He goes to a private school and is learning English, as are his parents. He's a very bright little boy! They fed us a typical Nica dinner...eggs, gallo pinto, banana chips, cuajada cheese, avocado slices, and salsa. They have their biggest meal for lunch and many students and workers go home to eat it, so this was a "light" meal for them. It was yummy and filling. We provided the cookies, and the recipe. He has been asking me to teach his wife how to make them since he had some, so now she knows. Wonderful evening with an amazing and progressing family.
We had 19 at our Hermanamiento on Thursday and Elder K showed the video of Abraham and Isaac. We talked about the similarities in Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son and Isaac's willingness to be sacrificed, to Heavenly Father sacrificing His Son and our Savior's willingness to be sacrificed for all of us. Isaac wasn't a little boy and Abraham was quite aged, so he could have prevented it. What a sweet reminder of consecration and of submitting to the Father's will. Elder K asked, "What are you willing to sacrifice for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" and "Are you willing to submit to the will of the Father?" It was a great wake up call and reminder of the level of conversion and testimony we all need to develop. We played the water game after and it was hilarious!
We had a very tender visit with a sweet mother yesterday, who has 4 children and lives in a shack. We have seen and sat on so many beds in homes that are only a rough frame, to be off of the often dirt floor, and cardboard...no mattress and maybe a sheet. Many live in one room...the whole family. She had divided a couple of "quarters" off by hanging blankets. There was only one chair and a rough bench, besides the bed in the main room. She, with the help of Elder K from the outside, had to lift out their front door to let us in. Her 13 daughter was recently baptized by Elder K, and her 15 year old daughter just moved in with her aunt. She also has three year old twins, so she can't work since her 15 year old moved and Ashli is in school in the afternoons, so there isn't anyone else to take care of the twins. They live way far from the church, so that also makes things hard. Elder K showed the video of Elder Holland's video on Mothers, and I expressed gratitude for my angel mother, the opportunity to be a mother, for the mothers of my grandchildren, and for the many mother hearts that bless children everywhere. Of course, I was teary. She told us how her mother had abandoned her at 16 months and that she was raised by her grandmother and her father. She hopes to meet her someday and understand why her mother would leave her. She told us that her husband is in prison for drug trafficking and how hard life is without lights and to have to struggle to provide food for her family. She loves her children and they are the most important part of her life! Elder K told her of Heaven Father's love for mothers, and then he blessed her and her family. We were grateful to be able to help her with some groceries. We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve these precious people and share not only our temporal blessings, but most importantly to be able to share our spiritual blessings of the gospel, faith, testimony, understanding, prayer, eternal families, and the love of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.
Happy Mothers Day to all of the mothers and those with mother hearts! We love you!
Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Saturday, May 6, 2017

EMAIL... Week 44

Hola All!
Another interesting and eventful week here in Nicaragua! The two baptisms last week both started over and hour and a half late. With the transportation issues and the distance many live from the chapels here, Mormon Standard Time has taken on a whole new meaning. Both were wonderful, and the spirit was strong as these two young people chose to follow the Savior and be baptized. It's very humbling to witness the sacrifices many are willing to make to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Monday we headed for Managua to have our car serviced, the air conditioning (another HUGE blessing) fixed as it was dripping profusely inside on the floor, and the brakes checked. We were supposed to take in in at 10 on Tuesday and be able to return home that evening, but our appointment ended up being later. We ran errands with the office couple, the Lees, who are the angels we stay with when in Managua. We got to visit with a few of our favorite missionaries, who were at Consejo at the chapel where the mission office is housed. We have truly been blessed to work with some amazing missionaries, young and senior. The car was almost done by the end of the day, and they said we would be able to pick it up at noon on Wednesday. They found more things wrong on Wednesday, so they said we could get it on Thursday at noon. It has over 100,000 kilometers, and that's when they like to sell and purchase new vehicles. We told them Estelí is not a good place for new vehicles because of the dirt, rocky, and rough road conditions, and that we would prefer to let someone else have the new vehicle. Thursday afternoon the man, who works for the Church and is in charge of things which cost a lot money...cars, homes, furnishings, phones, etc, called us and told us that we could take the mission truck up to Estelí until they figured things out. We had been going a bit stir crazy, because we were missing working with the missionaries and other commitments we had in Estelí. We had so much fun with the Lees, who were so kind and took great care of us, but knew we had things we needed to get done at "home". The Elders brought the truck and we all noticed the nail in the front tire. We packed up and headed home, and about 30 minutes into the trip home, it started pouring. We were truly blessed and protected, as we couldn't see very far ahead, and when big trucks were coming toward us, we couldn't see the road at all. It poured the rest of the way home, so you can imagine how grateful we were to arrive and to have arrived safely! Today, Elder K noticed that the tire with the nail was flat. He changed it and reported the problem. Another tender mercy that we were home and that he was able to change it. Never a dull moment!
The highlight of this week was our visits yesterday, especially with a new investigator of the Elders. She is almost 32 and has a daughter from an early relationship, and another daughter with her husband. He was killed in a motorcycle accident 5 years ago. She grew up on the streets, but is stable now and credits her blessings to our Heavenly Father. As they taught the Plan of Salvation, and Elder K showed the POS video, the spirit was strong and she was so happy. We are grateful to know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us to help us personally progress, to be refined, and to become the person we are here to become. Sometimes I balk at my challenges, but His plan is ALWAYS better that mine in the long run, and sometimes I see it immediately. Faith is such a critical gift and principle to develop!
We are loved! We are cared for! There are angels round about us, some we can see and some we cannot! Jesus Christ is at the helm and we can feel His peace, when we take that step back and feel it! We love you and are so grateful to have you in our lives!
Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Baptisms... Views of Esteli

We had two awesome baptisms this past week; Ashli and Julio (not the gardener.) Both baptisms started 2 hours late, but were wonderful experiences. 


Sunday lunch with our awesome ZL's. Shout outs to their moms. You raised great young men, who love to eat almost as much as they love their mothers. (They're excited to talk to you both on Mother's Day.) We love our missionaries.

We're on our way to visit with Ashli and her family. One of her neighbors has his priorities straight...satélite tv. Great view of one of the older catholic monasteries in Estelí.